Friday, July 6, 2012

Looking back on month 7

When I sit down to write these monthly Walter roundups, I ask Sean to help me make a list of topics, which I then rearrange and expand on to write the post. So much happens every month that it can be hard to remember it all.  This time I transcribed the list using Sean's exact words and emphasis, and I rather like it just as it.

Feedin' myself!
Fruits and veggies and meats
New car seat
Romantic week with grandparents
Starting to baby proof
Playing ball
gentle, gentle
sitting down and sitting up
... let's get you a new diaper.

That last one wasn't actually part of the list.

Caught napping.
The months have been going by very fast, and this month was no exception, but it also felt exceptionally full. Lots of people asked me this month, "Can you imagine what you did with your time before Walter?" And the honest answer I gave was, "I slept!" Certainly there was more spontaneous napping, and certainly our lives were meaningful and full.  But since Walter arrived life is full-to-overflowing; life is not just life, it is life abundantly.  This month was overflowing, abundantly full of love, firsts, tears, coughing, exploring, laughing, growing and joy. And also the occasional nap.

And now (over the course of two weeks) I'll take a crack at writing the narrative version of Sean's list ...

It felt like we'd all been better for about a week from the pink eye/ear infection/sinus infection/bronchitis saga when Walter started getting sick again. He was OK during the day but very sick and very sad at night, and one night he made a kind of whooping sound in between body-racking sobs, so back to the doctor we went. We were very relieved to hear that his coughing sounded like a classic case of croup, which sounds awful but isn't so bad in the grand scheme of baby sickness. We gave him a short course of steroids to help open his airways and imperil his major league baseball career.  The medicine made him 'roid-rage-cranky on top of sick-cranky, so when that was done and he started getting better he seemed extra sweet to us.  Of course, it was difficult to appreciate the sweetness through all that mucus.  Sean and I got terribly sick. The high point of this low point time was taking the day off from work together and gazing at each other miserably across delicious, steaming hot bowls of pho.

Somewhere in that haze of illness, Walter learned how to crawl. It happened gradually and also all at once ... he went from scooting and backwards crawling to learning how to maneuver into a sitting position by himself to a series of yoga/pilates moves that turned into real, genuine, one knee in front of another crawling.  At first he crawled pretty slowly, but soon he began motoring at an alarming pace, inevitably and determinedly toward the most dangerous places and objects he can find. When he's crawling and there's no one in-between him and a danger zone (the stairs, the dog's food and water bowls, the kitchen, etc.) Walter lets out a cackle of joy and crawls extra super fast toward his goal. He also likes to play "go find Mommy/Daddy."  For example, if I'm in the kitchen and the boys are in the living room I'll hear little hands and knees hitting the floor and Sean say, "Are you going to find Mommy? You are, aren't you?"  Shortly after that, Walter comes around the corner, closely followed by Sean, sees me, smiles, and doubles his speed.

I think this means he is very, very smart.

Walter in his "freedom enclosure"
Soon after the crawling came the pulling himself up to standing, and soon after the standing came the cruising using furniture for support and practicing getting up and down from the standing position, bending down to pick up a toy, etc. without falling.  These days, Walter is experimenting more and more with standing without any support at all--staying close to objects he can use to steady himself again. (Yesterday he evidently steadied himself using a nearby baby at day care, which reportedly was pretty funny and turned out OK for both of them.)  He did have his first "incident report" at day care during month 7, when he fell and got a little bruise above his eye.  The word "Bonk!" has entered our daily vocabulary as Walter and gravity get acquainted.  He also hears a lot of "gentle, gentle" ... you should have seen Hank's face when he realized that Walter can now chase after him. The perfect doggy expression of "Oh no.  It moves." That said, Walter and Hank the Dog are still good friends and interacting well with each other.  They check in with each other, look for each other, and look out for each other, too. When Walter heads for the open stair case, Hank goes ahead of him and gently blocks his path.

On Sunday, June 10, Sean and Walt went to urgent care (Sean had a badly infected throat, Walt had two badly infected ears,) Walt started a new course of antibiotics (the much easier-to-administer Z-Pack), Sean headed to Florida for a week of training for work and Walter and I headed to Johnson Creek for a wonderful week of vacation with Umma Sue and Grandpa Paul.

Sean called this a "romantic" week in his list, which I should probably explain.  Walter is a very affectionate boy; we're very affectionate people.  This week though, he was especially affectionate ... approaching us with half-closed eyes and open mouth and planting big wet kisses right on our lips with endearing frequency. Even with the ear infections and terrible sleep schedule and raging case of eczema (complicated, we found out later, by a yeast infection on his skin. yick.) even with all that he had such a good week.  He nursed and nursed and nursed, he cuddled and snuggled and cuddled, he explored and crawled and played and played. We didn't try to pack too much into each day, but we did do some pretty wonderful things: ate out at restaurants and sat in restaurant high chairs for the first time, swinging on the baby swings at the neighborhood park for the first time, first trip to the zoo (Henry Villas, in Madison,) first carousel, first petting zoo, first back yard baby pool.  He got to meet Maureen, a dear friend since way back in the days when we lived in Middleton circa 1984 or so, and he got to visit with Heidi and Bennett, my soul sister and his soul brother, again.  He went 6 days straight (GAH!) without pooping, which was exciting for all of us.  He had a growth spurt and moved up to 24 month sized clothes. He moved up into a big boy car seat.  Sean joined us on Friday night and we went down to my old hometown on Saturday, worshiping at our old home congregation on Sunday and celebrating Father's Day with great worship, a lovely family photo shoot and delicious Indian buffet.

I'm pretty happy, on the whole, with our weekly family routine and the time we get to spend together.  But it was a remarkable experience for me to get to be with Walter all day and all night, in a way we just haven't done since I started back at work.  I believe it is in all our best interests that I continue to work in this job, this calling, that I love so much, and that Walter spend significant time every day with other adults that he trusts and other kids that he's growing to know and love and learn from and with.  But it was good for us to have that week of intense, "romantic" time together.  He got some amazing bonding time with Umma Sue and Grandpa Paul, too, which makes all of us very happy indeed.

We took lots of pictures.  Lots and lots of pictures.  You should go look at the pictures, now. I'll wait. They are really, really good.

The happy glow from vacation stayed with us for awhile.  When we got Walt home to his crib (and away from the temptation of constantly nursing with Mama) he started sleeping better, even sleeping all the way through the night for almost a whole week. He started weekly swimming lessons at the YMCA, where we realized that "95th percentile" really does mean Walter is much much much bigger than other babies his age (and most babies several months older than him, too.)  He loves swimming and we love being in the water with him.  It was neat for me to back in the water at the Y with Walt for the first time since my last water aerobics class when I was pregnant.  Other than his skin problems, the transition from 7-8 months found Walter quite healthy.

Of course, now he has another ear infection and I'm sick, too, but that's what happens when I take two weeks to write a blog post.  Life continues and brings bugs our way!

Walter's diet expanded dramatically in his 7th month, but variety hasn't really led to greater enjoyment on his part.  He makes fantastic "YUCK!" faces when we give him applesauce or any other kind of fruit to eat.  He purses his little mouth and looks accusingly at each person at the table, one by one, saying "How could you do this to me?" He loves oatmeal, corn, and Cheerios.  He's extra interested in nursing, even as my milk supply is noticeably slowing down. Walter's first and most often and consistently used sign language is the sign for "milk," which he uses when he wants to nurse.  Lots of mixed feelings for Mama, knowing that this chapter of our life together is changing significantly--even if I'm able to nurse him beyond age one, very soon I won't be his main source of nourishment anymore.  It's a good thing, it's progress, but it's an adjustment for both of us.

Things are changing.  They're changing much faster than I can document them, clearly.  I don't want to slow time down, I don't want to stop the changes, but I do want to notice them and note them as they come and before they go.

At 7 months, Walter's favorite babbling syllable shifted from "dada" to "mama." That's a pretty standard progression--he's doing a lot of experimenting with "baba" these days. Babbling is how babies practice talking--working on their talking muscles, working on different tones of voice, listening to the way their voices sound and engaging in "conversations" with anyone who will repeat their sounds back to them.  The baby books point out that babies don't associate meaning with the babbling syllables the way we do ... "dada" doesn't mean Daddy, for example, or "mama," Mommy.

Right from the start, though, Sean insisted that Walter was using "mama" differently from other syllables--he was using it to refer to me. I was skeptical, but then I started noticing it, too.  Sometimes he looks right at me and lets out an emphatic "MOM!" He says it when he's sad or scared or has had a recent run-in with gravity and then reaches for me, crawling into my lap and burrowing into my arms.  This morning, when I said, "Are you ready to go to Daddy?" he smiled, turned his head to look at Sean, and put out his arms for Sean to take him from me.

I think Walter knows who we are in a different way, these days, and in a way that's changing and deepening every day.  And I think he knows we love him, too.

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